Tuesday, June 9, 2015

He Came Looking for Us

One of the implications of the incarnation is that when we were helpless God came looking for us (Romans 5:6-8; 3:23-26; Luke 15). This is fundamental to how we understand the Christian gospel. The basic idea of most of the faiths in the world is us seeking God. This idea puts God off at a distance, in some perfect world, waiting for us to finally make it up to His level. And the idea is if we work hard enough, follow the right rules, use the right methods we will eventually get to Him. But we are sinners who are unable to save ourselves (Romans 7:14-18; Jeremiah 17:9; Isaiah 64:6). We are bound with chains deep in our soul. And we need someone to come and rescue us.

God did not wait for us to come looking for us, He became a man in order to save us (Philippians 2:5-11; John 1:1-18; Hebrews 2:9-18). He paid the price we should have paid for our sin (1 Peter 2:24-25; Colossians 2:13,14; 2 Corinthians 5:21). He also acted to draw us to Himself (John 6:44; Acts 13:48; 16:14). He did all the work. We merely accept it by faith (Romans 4:4,5; Philippians 3:9; Galatians 3:6-9).

This undercuts pride (Ephesians 2:8,9; Luke 18:9-18; Romans 3:27,28). And self-righteous pride ends up looking down on others (Luke 7:36-50; 19:1-10; Matthew 9:10-13). This builds up a distance between us and others preventing us from reaching out to them or reaching them. And in the final analysis it is a sham that does not fit reality (Romans 2:1; Matthew 23:23-28; Isaiah 65:2-5). But if salvation comes from God doing all the work we nothing to boast about.

It allows us to have assurance. If salvation is based on what we do then it is always in doubt. I can never know if I have done enough and whether one rash decision could undo it all. But if it is based on Christ I can have real assurance (1 John 5:11-13; John 10:27-30; Romans 8:38,39). Now we need to be careful of assuming this assurance too easily. If we genuinely put our faith in Christ it will result in God working in our lives (2 Corinthians 3:18; Philippians 2:13; Colossians 1:29). And this work though faltering and imperfect is real and comes from God not us (Philippians 3:12-16; 1:6; Galatians 5:17). So there is a point where we need to ask if people have really put their faith in Christ (James 2:14-20; Matthew 7:15-23; 2 Corinthians 13:5). But we also need to remember that many imperfect people who pass the test (2 Peter 2:7,8; Hebrews 11:32; James 2:25). And if we have assurance we have not only the assurance of salvation, but also that God is at work in our lives to change us.

But if we can look to the fact that God came looking for us we can avoid both the pitfalls of pride and discouragement.

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